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& Luciano Daini: End of an Era
"Italian singer Amelia Cuni has a voice like a drink of mountain stream water, a voice that you might expect to find operating in popular song. But her area of expertise is that most ancient and rigorous of Indian styles, dhrupad singing. Cuni's vocal clarity and dusky sweetness sit oddly but perfectly in this austere context. Recent enthusiastic collaborators have included Paul Schütze, Terry Riley, Werner Durand and David Toop. This is not music that borrows a few Indian flavours, but a serious attempt to make something new and expressive from within Indian art music. It's both extraordinarily beautiful and very easy to listen to." - Clibe Bell, The Wire Magazine April 2001
With 15 different collaborations and 7 solo albums to his name, Italian ambient soundscape constructor Alio Die presents his most stunning release to date. His work with Robert Rich and Vidna Obmana have set the stage for the unusual beauty of this dramatic work, celebrating nature and the magic of the human voice.
In Hindu mythology, the Apsaras are female spirits of nature, usually water nymphs. Flowing in the waters, these celestial nymphs come out of the waves like the first seed of the mind: desire. Talented artistically, the Apsaras are very beautiful; charming musicians and dancers for the pleasure of the Gods.
We also carry Amelia Cuni's own album: Amelia Cuni Sings Dhrupad
Not every track on Apsaras is sweetness and light. "Water Memories" is a good example. Repeated, rhythmic cricket calls set a night scene, with dark synthscapes humming and glowing eerily behind them. Cuni's voice is also low and dark, stretching out to hold some notes for what seems like an eternity, like long memories extending deep into the past. An instrumental drone and heavy synth atmospheres build the tension, then suddenly clear up, like clouds occasionally occluding the moon, then dissolving as you float on ancient currents through the endless chasms of your subconscious mind. Slowly the drones, synthscapes, and voice fade, bringing you back to the present and leaving you with the chirping crickets that began the track.
A truly outstanding album for fans of dark ambient textures or hypnotic, sensuous South Asian singing. - Dave Aftandilian
What makes this CD different and exceptional is the voice of Amelia Cuni. She employs "dhrupad singing- traditional music from North India" as noted in the sleeve. Her voice, like the ambiance, is slow and weaves in and out; overall this duality between voice and ambiance is what forms the consistency of the release. And while she uses vibrato and other wavering techniques in some places and droning in others, it is done very much in the spirit of the album. Her voice works with the water and with the crickets and with every other drone that works its way in and out. Or perhaps it is the ambiance that works with her voice to support it as much as it can. This CD would appeal to fans of traditional Indian music as well as those who appreciate the ambient genre. I think particularly fans of Steve Roach and Robert Rich would appreciate this particular work. Also worth noting is that the album artworks are original compositions of Stefano Musso (Alio Die) from a series of works arranging natural objects directly on a scanner, skipping the camera all together. Very interesting stuff. - Michael Otley